The “American Commons” is a phrase I use to describe my ideal political party, although at this point it’s really about being in full support of Democracy as opposed to Oligarchy or Monarchy. One of the things we need to do, as a country but also at every level down to the neighborhood, is apply Democracy to the election process. One way to do this is to publicly finance campaigns, letting each serious candidate draw from a stipend during the official three-month campaign season and have the state buy advertisement slots which can be distributed evenly among those candidates.
In the meantime, we have Measure 26-184, which puts strict restrictions on how much any individual can donate to a county-level campaign. To win broad appeal, political figures will need to make a broad appeal instead of getting one or two special interests with deep pockets behind them. I am for this measure.
I believe that we will not be able to fix any political process problem until we get the effect of big money out. I know many wealthy people prefer anonymity, but they still manage to turn the world to their personal liking. See Gawker Media for the latest example of someone imposing their will on thousands of other people just because he could afford to do it.
As I also noted on Facebook yesterday, this year’s pamphlet seems low on arguments and those arguments are very one sided. Measure 26-184, however, has a great argument in opposition. There is only one argument in opposition, and it is well worth the read.
The online version can be found here (PDF version). The argument in question is on page 35 of the online document.
Thanks to Hamilton, most Americans know a story of Aaron Burr. Burr does not always act to better his position, but waits for someone to realize his virtue and give him status. When he does decide to make a move to get into “the room where it happens” he finds the last available seat is taken up by Alexander Hamilton.
Imagine (or remember) a time when the only way to learn about new movies was to read the news paper (which came to your door every single day) and scan the ads. Sometimes there was a movie reviewer, and some times an ad on TV, and sometimes schoolyard scuttlebutt. You are twelve years old. You see a bunch of movies that look good (they aren’t, but you’re twelve! What do you know?) and you look forward to a whole summer of catching movies.
Then a new rating comes out: PG-13. You may be allowed in, but you hear society telling you “wait until you’re older”.
A few years later you get into college, because a college education is the way to a good job and financial independence. Then a ballot measure to limit property taxes goes up and your per-credit costs triple in a year and your books get five times more expensive. You hear “wait a little longer” for financial independence.
Then you enter the work force just as people push to raise the retirement age, keeping the best jobs in the hands of the more experienced workers for longer. You hear “wait a little longer” for job promotions.
You work and start to think about retirement, and are told that social security is going to be gone, or you’ll have to wait longer to see any benefits, or work well past the retirement age to build a nest egg stable enough to retire on.
You end up thinking your 65th year will see a rash of “mandatory retirement” movements that kick you out of the workforce with an estimated thirty years to live and only the savings for ten, and you really can’t work anymore.
This is what I think about when I read Measure 94. The measure would remove the mandatory retirement age of 75 for our justices. Not replace, mind you: remove.
There are no arguments in opposition.
The argument in support is that no other government position has mandatory requirements, and we have a new way of looking at age, so 75 isn’t seen as “old” anymore. This is a fair argument.
On the other hand, it also makes younger people “wait” for a chance to be elected to the judiciary if that’s what they want.
I suspect I will vote for it, only because my only argument against it that I can come up with is the wallow of self-pity for my generation. The only thing that could make me vote against it is if any of our judicial positions at the state level were lifetime terms like the US Supreme Court. This page claims this is not the case in our state, so I guess I have no reason not to vote for it, and voting for it adds an element of consistency to our state government.
Afterword: This page (An Introduction to the Courts of Oregon) has a lot of good information about how our courts currently operate.
I have found it hard to put things to words lately. This is making NaNoWriMo difficult, my online writing class an impossibility, and any sane reaction to the Paris attacks beyond all hope. But today the processional hymn managed to give me words:
O God of every nation, of every race and land
redeem the whole creation with your almighty hand;
where hate and fear divide us and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us and heal our strife-torn world.
From search for wealth and power and scorn of truth and right,
from trust in bombs that shower destruction through the night,
from pride of race and nation and blindness to your way,
deliver every nation, eternal God, we pray!
Lord, strengthen all who labor that we may find release
from fear of rattling saber, from dread of war’s increase;
when hope and courage falter, your still small voice be heard;
with faith that none can alter, your servants undergird.
Keep bright in us the vision of days when war shall cease,
when hatred and division give way to love and peace,
till dawns the morning glorious when truth and justice reign
and Christ shall rise victorious o’er all the world’s domain.
William Watkins Reid, Jr.
I’m taking a break from NaNoWriMo to write about NaNoWriMo, because this year is a bit more of an experiment.
I have a spotty history with NaNoWriMo. My first try was back in 2004, and I finished the story at 35k. I’ve tried in other years but the NaNoWriMo database seems to only go back to 2011. In 2013 I tried to write Loyalty Oath, which is a story I’ve had in my head since I was a teenager and the novel has been kicking around my someday list since 2005. There seems to me to be enough to this story to warrant a novel, or at least a full NaNo attempt.
So this year I am re-writing it, and I’m trying a few different things.
One, I’m trying to write each major scene from more than one person’s point of view. I have four main characters in this thing, one of which is vital, two are important, and one is optional. I’m not sure about giving the antagonist his own narrative flow, but hell, I’m doing it anyway. I’m afraid some of my characters aren’t all there yet, so I don’t know if I’ll find their voice.
Two, because I’m writing each scene multiple times, I’m afraid the progress of the story will be so slow I’ll get frustrated and give up.
Three, because I’ve started a new job, and there’s an Evensong coming up and a Celebration of Life to sing at and OryCon and Thanksgiving, I’m afraid I won’t be able to carve out enough time every day.
To counteract the first, this is really an experiment in pantsing a novel. I’ve tried manymethods of writing before, and my novels tend to get fully outlined. Unfortunately, plotting is for me like puzzle solving, so it doesn’t seem as interesting to solve the same puzzle over and over again.
As for the second, I’m playing with voice. I just have to let myself play with this. I can’t talk my way down from this fear.
And finally, number three is the ever-present time crunch. I’ve got things to do, and I’m getting to the point of giving up writing because there is more frustration and rejection than anything else, and I’m falling back into consumer habits and not content creation. I may be stuck there. I don’t know, but not writing still hurts, so I’d better get back to writing.
Besides, I can write 600-700 words in a 20 minute session if I have a fairly decent road map. Although it’s mostly dialogue. I wonder if I should try more script writing. I tend to write dialogue heavy stuff.
So I will keep on.
As part of my online writing course, someone asked for a critique of a story that she felt wasn’t working. I offered to blather about it a bit. One of her concerns was the ending falls flat. There was a decent enough emotional ending, but I think I understand her feeling. The rough story: Inspector on unpleasant field work. The draft I have is 8 pages long. The first 6 and a half pages take place in the field, the last page and a half in the office, where the narrator learns she actually suceeded in the external task of the story.
In my commentary, I suggested that this feels wrong because it is only one half of a pair of bookends. If the story started in the office, went to the field, and returned, then the bookends may work better. Alternatively, cutting the setting of the ending and keeping it in the field brings the end closer to the meat of the story. By this point, the world building was well enough established that a few paragraphs of inner angst while driving home were just inner angst, which the narrator could have had anywhere.
Then I looked at one of my short stories which has gone through every major market and several smaller markets. My story starts in the narrator’s office to set up the story problem, then transfers a coffee house date where the rest of the story happens. I, too, only have one half of a pair of bookends. Maybe there’s a way to fix it, and maybe there’s a market or two left where I can send it, otherwise, it’s off to Smashwords if I can figure out what the cover should look like.